15 Top Things to Do in Manila

Things to Do in Manila

When you board your plane in order to tour the Philippines chain of islands, you will first land in Manila, the capital city.

Only after seeing some of the top sights in Manila, you will either fly or go on a voyage to other incredible islands of the Philippines.

Therefore, let us go through the list of things to do in the Manila.

In which Philippines Island is Manila located?

It is located in Luzon, one of the 7640 islands. Luzon Island is the major island in the Philippines archipelago and is situated at the northern part of it.

Luzon is surrounded by the following seas:

  • The Philippines Sea in the East
  • The Celebes Sea in the South
  • The South China Sea in the West

Here is the position of the Philippines Islands.

Manila map

Notice Luzon’s location at the north of the archipelago. It is at the south-western part of Luzon.

Does Manila receive international flights from the U.S., U.K., and Europe?

There are direct flights from the U.S., the U.K, and Europe to Manila.

Top Things to Do in Manila:

 

  1. San Agustin Church

The Spanish ruled these beautiful islands for several centuries. Naturally, their residual effect can be seen in the buildings of it, in the Filipino cuisine, and in their culture.

The church of San Agustin is among the top places to see in Manila.

The architecture of the church is so appealing that the UNESCO termed it as a World Heritage Site.

San Agustin Church

It is 5 centuries old and constructed in Buroque style.

  1. Ayala Museum

There are several museums in it. Among them, visiting the Ayala museum is one of the things to do in Manila.

Some of the exhibits will certainly enthrall you. They include, Filipinos’ past war ships, their artistry in porcelain, and their historical silk dress materials, and their gold ornaments. I would be interested to see their gold jewelry.

  1. Fort Santiago

It is Spanish written all over it. The castle is located inside the Intramuros, one of the top sights in Manila.

  1. Cathedral of Manila

These historical attractions would be generally shown to you by your guide on the first day of your tour.

  1. Intramuros

Intramuros is an ancient part of it and it is a walled city.  It was from here, the Spanish ruled the Philippines. It is one of the foremost places to see.

Intramuros

And is an impressive area. Being there will make you feel part of the Filipino history.  There are the ruins of a palace, some official buildings, and a university inside the Intramuros.

It was originally the city Manila, during the Spanish reign that ended at the close of the 19th century. Even during that time, settlements were coming up outside the Intramuros. They were called aptly the ‘extramuros’.

  1. China Town

In most of the South Asian cities, there will be a China Town. I visited one such place in Singapore. The streets within the China town will be full of restaurants, bars, and shops owned and run by the Chinese.

You can eat authentic Chinese food and buy several Chinese memorabilia.  It may be interesting to know this China Town is the first in the world outside China.

The China Town is known as ‘Binondo. It was built as early as 1594!

Visiting the China Town is one of things to do in Manila.

  1. Manila Bay

The beach abutting the Bay Walk is called the ‘Dolomite Beach’.

Manila is a coastal town facing the South China Sea. Naturally formed harbor, the lengthy promenade, and several spots to watch the sunset makes the Bay as one of the top sites. The bay walk or the promenade is nearly 2 km long.

The Manila Bay is full of mangrove trees that form a natural wetland. You must be aware that a wetland is a paradise for bird watchers. Nearly 100 species f fish-eating birds are recorded here. They included the rare cuckoo-shrikes.  The birds find abundant prey amidst coral reefs and sea-grass.

An estuary is an added attraction in the bay area where the River Pampanga meets with her final destination-the South China Sea.

Off the estuary, you can spot a few islands that are wonderful places to snorkel and spot aquatic birds.

  1. Luneta Park ( Rizal Park)

What you see above is a monument, erected in the memory of Jose Rizal, one of the national heroes for the Filipinos.

  1. Eat Filipino delicacies

Not many people are aware of the fact it is an ultimate destination for food connoisseurs. Filipino cuisine is popular all over the world.

Read this blog post on Filipino snacks and sweets first before getting to know, where to eat in Manila, the tastiest Filipino foods.

Here are some of the highly recommended restaurants and diners.

  • Rodic’s Diner
  • Butterboy
  • Half Saints
  • Spiral
  • Sky Deck (with a view of the South China Sea and Manila Bay Walk)
  • Barnara’s
  • Movie Stars Café

I am sure you would try to visit as many restaurants as possible during your trip to the Philippines’s capital city.

Filipino street food in Manila

In addition, try a few Filipino street foods.

Quiapo Market is known for numerous street food stalls.

Here is a scene of Quiapo Market street food.

YouTube video

I think this one street can be visited again and again to try different Filipino foods in Manila. I think this is one of the top places to see.

One of the must-eat street foods in Manila is called ‘Isaw’.

Kwek Kwek is an ubiquitous street food. It is made of Quail egg.

  1. Greenbelt Shopping Mall

Do visit this shopping complex on your first day itself in Manila. It is a huge complex with 300+ shops selling A to Z of Filipino goods. It is also a ‘public watching’ place.

Greenbelt Shopping Arcade is rated high in the list of top places to see in Manila.

  1. Casa Manila

It is a museum displaying the life and times of the Philippines during the Spanish reign.  Would you be interested to add this in your list of things to do in Manila?

  1. Arroceros Urban Forest Park

It is scenically located on the banks of River Pasig. This river runs through the length of the city, dividing into two halves.

This is a mini forest that is developed right in the city. Apart from true forest trees, you can see thousands (as many as 8000) of ornamental plants. They will egg on you to keep going deep inside the forest.

Arroceros Urban Forest Park is an oxygen factory functioning silently in it. Make it as one of the must-see sights in Manila.

The trees provide ample canopy for the walkers. They also act as hidden habitats for several birds, the notable being a “long-tailed Shrike”.

  1. Manila Ocean Park (marine park)

I have visited a few of these marine parks. In spite of brilliant underwater lives, strangely, they don’t attract too many visitors.

YouTube video

It is called an Oceanarium (a big aquarium) that houses 14k marine lives.

There is the underwater tunnel through you can walk, watching the marine creatures behind the glass walls.

Become an instant Mermaid.

Mermaid costumes are given for rent. Wear one and enter the South China Sea and swim with the marine lives.

There is a stadium inside the Oceanarium where you can watch a show of birds that are amazingly trained to perform various acts.

 

YouTube video

 

Another awesome show is the Sea Lions Show. Have you ever seen a Sea Lion? Watch the video showing the cute Sea Lions performing for the audiences.

YouTube video

 

Finally, you must wait patiently to watch a symphony of fountain that is truly spectacular.

YouTube video

Definitely, visiting the Ocean Park is among the best things to do in Manila.

  1. Manila Zoo

Without a zoo, no city can attract tourists, especially the children. It has a zoo. Set amidst lush greenery.

It is quite a large zoo, comprising a whopping 550k sq ft. It has been in existence since 1959. The star of attraction is a white tiger.

Another big attraction for the children in Zoo is a separate enclosure for hundreds of species of butterflies.

  1. Star City

Star City is a sprawling entertainment area in which an amusement park functions. You have all the usual rides that include a terrific roller-coaster, a snow slide ring, and a giant Ferris Wheel which is a must in any amusement park.

A few more ancient churches and museums and new shopping malls are the added attractions in Manila.

To sum up, apart from the usual fun parks and wildlife watching places, tourists’ biggest interest in it is the Filipino foods. The range of snacks, desserts, and the main foods including varieties of rice dishes, stews, skewers, and noodles keep the visitors to Manila happy during their stay.